The Southern Kings will be without captain Luke Watson for the remainder of their Super Rugby campaign, following an injury to his ankle.
Watson, who has suffered a litany of injuries this year, is to undergo an ankle operation which will see him sidelined ahead of the Kings’ clash with the Bulls in Pretoria this weekend.
“I do not know the exact nature of the injury (an ankle fracture), but he has been to Cape Town to see a specialist and the outcome is that he will undergo an operation and will be out for six months,” Kings’ director of rugby Alan Solomons confirmed on Tuesday.
Centre Andries Strauss was likely to captain the Kings for the rest of the season, while lock Darron Nell would be the deputy for the Bulls’ match at the weekend, in the absence of the injured Steven Sykes.
Wing Michael Killian returned to the side after recovering from injury, while regular wings Sergeal Petersen and Siyanda Grey were still on the injured list.
Solomons said he believed the Eastern Cape outfit would be able to handle the absence of Watson after several setbacks prevented him from playing for much of the year.
“Luke is an excellent player, but he has suffered with a string of injuries, starting at the end of last year when he hurt an ankle against the Leopards,” Solomons said.
“He suffered a throat injury against the Western Force and then fell ill, and although he could feel the ankle in some matches, it was one of those situations where it sort of came and went.
“However, the problem has persisted and Watson will now enter another period of rehabilitation as the Kings move ahead with their Super Rugby requirements.”
In Watson’s absence, Cornell du Preez, Wimpie van der Walt and Jacques Engelbrecht will handle the loose trio duties, as they have been doing for much of the season.
Centre Ronnie Cooke turned over an ankle in training this week, but he has been named in the team and Solomons said he was sure he would be fit for Saturday’s clash.
KINGS: 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss (Captain), 11 Michael Killian, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 1 Schalk Ferreira, 2 Bandise Maku, 3 Kevin Buys, 4 Cornell du Preez, 5 Darron Nell, 6 David Bulbring, 7Wimpie van der Walt, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht.
Replacements: 16 Grant Kemp, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Shane Gates.